First UK Stiltz customer ‘cured’ with new life-changing back implant
A woman from Essex has been all but cured from a spinal condition she had for nearly 40 years, but after receiving pioneering treatment and installing a homelift from Stiltz, she is able to get around much easier.
Kim Carpenter has Degenerative Disc Disease, a condition which affects around 30 million people every year and involves the discs collapsing and causing the facet joints in the vertebrae to rub against one other, causing pain and stiffness.
The 60-year-old has suffered with the back problem since the age of 22 and around eight years ago, the situation became so bad that the only way she could go upstairs was on all fours.
In 2010, Kim and her husband had a Stiltz Homelift installed in their home, which enabled her to move independently between floors.
Just over a year ago, however, Kim’s back condition became so painful that she contacted the London Spinal Clinic in a desperate plea for help. She discovered that the Clinic was weeks away from trialling their new Spinal Cord Stimulator implant. Kim readily agreed, becoming one of the trial’s first volunteers.
She commented: “I was desperate. Degenerative Disc Disease was taking over my life. I’ve had loads of operations and my spinal surgeon had retired so I needed to find a solution.
“I spoke to the London Spinal Clinic to see if there was anything they could do and they asked me if I would like to be one of their ‘guinea pigs’ for the Spinal Cord Stimulator. They were very confident it would work and I was willing to try anything.”
The SCS device had to be surgically placed under Kim’s skin and works by sending mild electric currents from a pulse generator to the nerve fibres of her spinal cord via a small wire.
“It works very much like a tens machine,” she explained. “It confuses the signals going to the brain and stimulates the nerves in the area of my back where I feel the pain most.
“It has made me so much more mobile and has taken away at least 80 per cent of the discomfort I was feeling before.
“The only thing is I have to ‘charge’ the stimulator for about half an hour every morning and evening – a bit like a mobile phone. Once the battery level is charged, I can move around again.”
Despite the new implant, Kim still does not feel comfortable enough to walk up the stairs and continues to use her freestanding Stiltz Homelift, which travels through the floor on self-supporting rails.
The Essex couple were the first homeowners in the UK to embrace the company’s new domestic lift concept.
Recently, they have invested in a second Stiltz lift, which the company describes as a newer and “more stylish” model installed in the home. The homelift resides in a recent extension they have had built connecting an extensive library room to an upstairs mezzanine area.
Kim said: “We originally came across Stiltz Homelifts at The Ideal Home Show in London when we were in the process of renovating our property and it turned out that we became their first customers in the UK.
“The homelift has helped make our home fully accessible for me and, along with the spinal stimulator, has improved my life immeasurably.
“We recently had some more building work carried out and decided to buy the second generation Stiltz Homelift which is a completely different shape and looks very smart and sophisticated.
“We’re really proud of the fact we are again unique in the UK as having an original Stiltz alongside one of their newest models.”